The Injustice Done My Mother

by José Rizal (Translated, Austin Craig)




by José Rizal

Some days after my return to Kalamba, my parents decided that I should remain, and that later I should go to Manila. I wanted to study with a teacher of the town, even though I could learn no more than multiplication, so I entered the village school.

At this time, an uncle of mine, Don José Alberto, returned from Europe. He found that, during his absence, his wife had left his home and abandoned her children. The poor man anxiously sought his wife and, at my mother's earnest request, he took her back. They went to live in Biñan. Only a few days later the ungrateful woman plotted with a Guardia Civil officer who was a friend of ours. She accused her husband of poisoning her and charged that my mother was an accomplice. On this charge, the alcalde sent my mother to prison.

I do not like to tell of the deep grief which we all, nine sisters and brothers, felt. Our mother's arrest, we knew, was unjust. The men who arrested her pretended to be friends and had often been our guests. Ever since then, child though I was, I have distrusted friendship. We learned later that our mother, away from us all and along in years, was ill. From the first, the alcalde believed the accusation. He was unfair in every way and treated my mother rudely, even brutally. Finally, he persuaded her to confess to what they wised by promising to set her free and to let her see her children. What mother could resist that? What mother would not sacrifice life itself for her children?

They terrified and deceived my mother, as they would have any other mother. They threatened to condemn her if she did not say what they wished. She submitted to the will of her enemies and lost her spirit. The case became involved until the same alcalde asked pardon for her. But this was only when the matter was before the Supreme Court. He asked for the pardon because he was sorry for what he had done. Such was his meanness that I felt afraid of him. Attorneys Francisco de Marcaida and Manuel Masigan, Manila's leading lawyers, defended my mother and they finally succeeded in having her acquitted. They proved her innocence to the judges, her accusers and her hosts of enemies. But after how much delay? -- After two and a half years.
Meanwhile my father decided to send me to Manila with my brother Paciano. I was to take the entrance examinations for the secondary course in the Ateneo Municipal. I arrived in Manila on June 10th, 1872. I found out for the first time what examinations were like. My examinations were in Christian doctrine, arithmetic and reading, in San Juan de Letran College. They gave me a passing mark and I returned to my home. A few days later came the celebration of the town festival, after which I went to Manila. But even then, I felt that unhappiness was in store for me.

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